Country’s oldest black university in trouble
Alumni of the country’s oldest historically black private university are fighting to keep the institution up and running.
Wilberforce University was founded in 1856. So far graduates have committed to raise $2 million in cash donations to keep the southwestern Ohio school going.
The alumni association of southwestern Ohio’s Wilberforce University, founded in 1856, says graduates have committed to raise $2 million in cash donations, including $400,000 pledged at last weekend’s alumni conference. The university has already received $200,000 of that, alumni and university officials said Wednesday. The university also says it has a strategy for upcoming changes, including realigning Wilberforce’s board, modifying facilities and academics, revising financial procedures and finding a president to move the school forward.
Talbert Grooms, president of Wilberforce’s alumni association, said in a statement that alumni believe change is a “critical part of staying relevant.”
Last month, the Higher Learning Commission issued a “show-cause” order, which stressed serious financial issues, lack of leadership and a deteriorating campus among other problems at the school. It requires Wilberforce to show why the commission shouldn’t withdraw its accreditation.
Wilberforce ended the 2013 fiscal year with a $9.7 million deficit. It’s proposed operating budget for 2014 was based on a 500-student enrollment, while actual enrollment was about 377.
The school is unlikely to reach its projected 200-student enrollment this fall.
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